CreaTures – Creative Practices for Transformational Futures

The exhibition presents seven experimental productions from the CreaTures Laboratory – a collection of art and design projects aiming to foster positive eco-social change.
Nocturne: Sea Altar at the Atmospheres Deep exhibition (image credit: Isabel Beavers).
Nocturne: Sea Altar at the Atmospheres Deep exhibition (image credit: Isabel Beavers).

About the event

The CreaTures (Creative Practices for Transformational Futures) research project investigates the role of existing – yet often hidden – creative practices in moving the world towards eco-social sustainability. The EU H2020 project responds to the current environmental and social challenges and the urgent need to find new ways of living together on the planet to restore and preserve our ecosystems. 

CreaTures is a collaboration between Aalto University as a coordinator with 3 other universities (Utrecht University, the University of Sussex, RMIT University) and 7 cultural institutions and art-design collectives (Zemos98, Superflux, Kersnikova, Hellon, Furtherfield, Sniffer, OKFI).

Learn more about CreaTures here

Project showcase

The Cooler Planet exhibition features 7 experimental productions from the CreaTures Laboratory – a collection of art and design projects following the common goal of supporting positive eco-social change. 

    Live Open Forest walk through the Sipoonkorpi National Park, Finland (image credit: Markéta Dolejšová).

    Open Forest 

    Author: Open Forest Collective

    Open Forest is a collective, experimental inquiry into different forests and more-than-human dataflows. The project explores how forests and forest data can be produced, thought of and otherwise engaged with, in playful ways that consider perspectives of diverse forest creatures and reach beyond geo-engineering, techno-solutionist perspectives. In practice, the project consists of experimental forest walks followed by a co-creation of forest stories. Through these playful activities, the project entangles existing forests' datasets with data that questions and obscures the currently collected and available – mostly quantitative – insights about various forests. At Cooler Planet, visitors can browse through existing documentation of the Open Forest walks, stories, and forest patches and contribute their own stories and experiences.

    Learn more about the project

    Image: Live Open Forest walk through the Sipoonkorpi National Park, Finland (image credit: Markéta Dolejšová).

    Composite image of the cover and selected pages of the More-than-human Food Futures cookbook

    Experimental Food Design for Sustainable Futures

    Author: Feeding Food Futures collective

    Experimental Food Design for Sustainable Futures was a two day workshop experimenting with food as bio-design material and an accessible starting point from which to explore values, concerns, and imaginaries associated with food futures and climate resilience. Through playful food engagements and discussion, participants co-created eleven experimental food futures recipes that aim to provoke imagination and inspire critical thinking on how human-food practices could be different, supporting sustainable flourishing. The recipes together with other workshop outcomes were compiled into the More-than-Human Food Futures Cookbook which is showcased at the Cooler Planet exhibition and available online, as open access publication.

    Learn more about the cookbook

    Image: More-than-Human Food Futures Cookbook with 11 recipes resulting from the workshop activities (image credit: Feeding Food Futures)

    Photograph with mostly black background and glowing organic shapes in different colours


    Author: Isabel Beavers

    Nocturne is a series of wild altars meant to be experienced at dusk, dawn, or at night. The altars are experienced outdoors in chance encounters, as well as in museum and gallery exhibitions. Rooted in intimate experiences with the elements, landscape, seascape, and more-than-human species, each site calls upon a specific and ephemeral moment of sensory collaboration: times when the sun, light, sound, and scent coalesce through the senses of the human body to produce sublime or ordinary but intimate moments. The work is an experiment in care-taking, eco-rituals, and a seduction into intimate moments with the more-than-human world. The practice of generating new ceremonies and rituals with more-than-human species serves as a method of re-localization, de-emphasizing the human-human connection, and reemphasizing the grounding impacts of human-more-than-human interactions.

    Learn more about the series

    Image: Nocturne altars: opening a space for serendipitous more-than-human encounters and new eco-rituals (image credit: Isabel Beavers)

    Composite image of photo of people playing a board game and rainbow coloured shapes on black background with Hellon and CreaTures text

    Sustainable Futures Game

    Author: Hellon

    Accelerating sustainability transitions requires imagination and creativity to concretise desirable futures narratives. For this purpose, Hellon designed the Sustainable Futures Game that connects societal sustainability goals with everyday organisational contexts to help build organisations’ capacities for imagining alternative futures. The game is designed for decision-makers and planners within public and private organisations, offering a creative and holistic approach to address sustainability challenges. The purpose is to help players co-imagine a desirable future state of a commonly decided city in 2030 through fictional storytelling and design prompts and then backcast ways to tackle critical challenges to reach the co-narrated future. As the story is co-narrated, the outcome of each game session varies depending on the participants interests and aspirations. This diversity of perspectives helps the participants find new opportunities and create novel pathways for reaching desirable futures.

    Learn more about the game

    Image: Sustainability Futures Game pushes imagination by asking questions about value systems, everyday life, new habits, and new governance models (image credit: Hellon)

    Cyano Automaton: a spirulina cultivation vessel in constant evolution (image credit: Agnieszka Pokrywka).

    Cyano Automaton 

    Author: Agniezska Pokrywka

    The Cyano Automaton author Agniezska Pokrywka recently embarked on an analogue space mission to Mars, in the Utah desert, to fulfill her childhood dream of becoming an astronaut, and to challenge her criticism of space colonization. Her preparations for this adventure included the cultivation of cyanobacteria; more specifically: Arthrospira platensis. Spirulina, as it's more commonly known, has been used as food in the past (pre-colonial Mexico and Chad); in the present (in hipster and health-oriented communities); and will be in the future (on deep space flights). The spirulina cultivation set-up that is presented here is called Cyano Automaton: a vessel in constant evolution, reflecting the infinite changes that every living system goes through. In spite of these transitions, some questions remain unaltered: What can we learn from this silent observer of our planet and its billion-year-long wisdom?

    Find out more about the project here

    Image: Cyano Automaton: a spirulina cultivation vessel in constant evolution (image credit: Agnieszka Pokrywka).

    Julia Lohmann's Hidaka Ohmu at the A Bloc. Photo: Mikko Raskinen

    Baltic Sea Lab 

    Author: Julia Lohmann & Department of Seaweed

    The Baltic Sea Lab develops co-creative ways and tools to activate people to promote sea health. The project aims to grow a network of potential “sea stewards”, caring for their local sea environment through co-creative engagements. In 2020–2021, the Lab with its multi-sensory seaweed pavilion Hidaka Ohmu, hosted exchanges, panels and co-creative ocean literacy and research events, partnering with local Finnish institutions like the John Nurmisen Foundation, the Hanaholmen, and the Tvärminne Zoological Station. Drawing on these activities, a framework was established to support creative practices in engaging communities with ocean literacy: Knowledge (awareness of ecological and cultural issues), Care (empathy, emotional and embodied connection), and Action (active participation, agency).

    Find out more about the lab here

    Image: Hidaka Ohmu sculpture in the Baltic Sea Lab project space (image credit: Mikko Raskinen).

    Maker Contribution to Dodo ry’s ‘Megapolis 2026: Energetic Cities’, as part of Pixelache’s outreach & education programme ‘Pixelversity’, Helsinki, 15.10.2011 (image credit: Antti Ahonen)

    Pixelache: How Do We Keep Going? Transformations In Practice

    Author: Andrew Gryf Paterson, Irina Mutt, Sumugan Sivanesan, Antti Ahonen

    Pixelache Helsinki is a Finland-based creative association on emerging creative practices with almost 20 years of activity in 2022. Starting as a Festival of Electronic Arts & Subcultures, throughout the past decade the association has been running a trans-disciplinary platform for emerging art, design, research, technology and activism that involved a dynamic local community, and an annual festival experimenting with a rotating directorial model. The rich association’s history and activities in the field of transformational creative practice are the core focus of the association’s process, by engaging with organisational meta-data, and Pixelache’s production office in Suvilahti as a tangible memory device. We set out the hope of answering: How do we keep going? The Cooler Planet exhibition presents two audiozines resulting from an experimental archival and ethnographic work that sought to gather perspectives from active Pixelache members reflecting upon how the organisation has transformed between 2013-2019 via objects and narratives. Within the space are several of the objects referenced in the audiozines, as well as a handmade Gantt chart showing active members in the association.

    Find out more about the association here

    Image: Maker Contribution to Dodo ry’s ‘Megapolis 2026: Energetic Cities’, as part of Pixelache’s outreach & education programme ‘Pixelversity’, Helsinki, 15.10.2011 (image credit: Antti Ahonen).

    Aalto's CreaTures team

     Gaurika Singhal

    Gaurika Singhal

    Research assistant
     Savannah Vize

    Savannah Vize

    Research assistant
     Kirsi Hakio

    Kirsi Hakio

    Project Employee
     Tuuli Mattelmäki

    Tuuli Mattelmäki

    Professor (Associate Professor)
    Department of Design

    Andrea Botero

    CreaTures at Aalto

    people sitting on sofas with laptops

    Research project CreaTures seeks to further the sustainability agenda with creativity

    The transdisciplinary project highlights how the arts can contribute to addressing climate change and associated effects. The project aims at demonstrating effective paths to achieving sustainability, social cohesion and peaceful co-existence at a time of rapid change.

    CreaTures Logo

    ONLINE: CreaTures Panel: Discussing the power of creative practices for reshaping the future

    Creative arts and design practices have already demonstrated transformational potential in the area of social cohesion and environmental citizenship. However, they are often fragmented, poorly resourced and badly understood.  

    Creatures project logo

    CreaTures (2020-2023)

    Creative practices for transformational futures (INUSE/ENCORE)

    Department of Design

    Designs for a Cooler Planet

    Life 1.5 in black font and Designs for a Cooler Planet logo on a white, fragmented background.

    Life 1.5 – an exhibition of planet-friendly materials, fashion and food

    Designs for a Cooler Planet is a five-week-long festival celebrating experiments in planet-friendly materials, fashion, and food.

    Black font stating "What's the future made of?" and Designs for a Cooler Planet logo on a white, fragmented background.

    What's the future made of?

    Planet-friendly alternatives for materials, mindsets and architecture.

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